As part of its “Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative” the Alice Ferguson Foundation has compiled jurisdictional reports submitted by county and municipal governments throughout the Potomac Watershed since 2007 detailing their actions to protect the watershed and decrease litter.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation is a Maryland-based nonprofit organization that promotes protecting watershed quality, employing sustainable agricultural practices, and connecting people with nature within the Potomac River watershed. To achieve these goals, the Foundation conducts educational programs and activities through the Potomac watershed area.
The 2015 jurisdictional reports includes updates from Maryland jurisdictions (Charles, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties and the City of Greenbelt), Virginia jurisdictions (Arlington, Frederick, and Prince William Counties), Adams County from Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Other jurisdictions are included in prior year reports, such as Allegany County or the City of College Park from Maryland.
The reports discuss a variety of topics, including legislation/regulations, education, law enforcement, stormwater technology, trash “hot spots”, costs, recycling rates, collaboration, and other key factors. Here is the Charles County summary from the 2015 jurisdictional report:
Maryland Transportation Article 21-1111d
A person may not throw, dump, discharge, or deposit any trash, junk, or other refuse on any highway or public bridge or in any public waters. Maximum fine: $180 and 3 points.
Maryland Transportation Article 24-106b
A vehicle with any load may not be driven on any highway unless the vehicle is constructed or loaded to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping. Maximum fine: $90.
Maryland Criminal Article 10-110
A person may not dispose of litter on any public or private property. Imprisonment ranging from 30 days to 5 years, fines ranging between $1,500 and $30,000 based on the amount littered.
Charles County continues to conduct extensive outreach, education, and training programs at local schools and civic associations to increase awareness of waste reduction and recycling while providing residents with assistance and information on waste reduction, recycling, buying recycled, composting, and other waste reduction topics. Litter control prevention is incorporated into all presentations to all age groups. Participation in the Alice Ferguson’s annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has been an integral part of the Charles County litter control program. The County’s Adopt-A-Road program supplies 100 community groups with necessary cleanup supplies in exchange for their voluntary service of picking up trash and litter along roadways. Other means of public outreach include the annual county fair, Earth Day, community cleanups, Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, and public/private cooperative efforts. Promotional items encouraging recycling and discouraging litter are provided to all participants. Household hazardous waste collections held the first Saturday of each month, April through December for proper disposal of toxic chemicals.
The Charles County Commissioners proclaimed October 2015 as the County’s first Litter Enforcement Month. County agencies are joined together in a collaborative effort to encourage a litter-free environment through education, community improvements, and enforcement. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office plans to dedicate resources during the months of October and April to increase enforcement and education of litter control laws.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office addresses litter control and illegal trash dumping on an ongoing basis. The Community Oriented Policing Services Unit and Charles County Teen Court organize and participate in numerous neighborhood and community clean-up events. Additionally, Officers oversee litter collection by citizens who select alternative sentencing in lieu of points and fines for moving violations and other offenses
Trash racks are on storm water structures throughout Charles County.
TRASH HOT SPOTS:
Charles County has three full-time litter crews with each crew being assigned a different geographical area of the county. Supervisors report daily on the roads cleaned, number of miles covered, and total trash collected. This practice includes both roadside litter and illegal dumping areas/hot spots.
The County has successfully used trail cameras to identify illegal dumping suspects. The cameras work well on secluded roads where repeat dumping occurs.
COST OF LITTER CLEANUP ON LAND AND IN WATER:
Litter Control Budget – $401,000 (Includes Litter Control personnel, equipment, and promotional items).
Street sweeping of County roads – $50,000.
Inlet Cleaning on County land – $90,000
In calendar year 2014, Charles County achieved a 51% recycling rate, coupled with a 5% source reduction credit, resulting in a combined waste diversion rate of 56%.
The curbside recycling conversion to 95 gallon recycling carts helped the county increase its single stream recycling tonnage and incorporated litter prevention measures into the program. The curbside recycling program no longer allows the use of open top containers in collection. The recycling cart lids reduce the occurrence of accidental litter from open top containers.
In addition to working with the Sheriff’s Office, Charles County partners with the public schools and non-profit agencies to promote its antilittering campaign.
The County’s Waldorf Beautification Project, an area focused anti-littering and beautification program, was broaden to include the entire county. The new “Keep Charles County Beautiful” anti-littering initiative places an emphasis on educating the public of the damages caused by littering to the community, through health issues, esthetics, and property values. The program partners with schools, residents, businesses, civic and charitable organizations, and neighborhoods, emphasizing the conservation of natural resources, removal of litter, and support for programs in schools to educate youth in the earth sciences.
WASTE DIVERSION CAPACITY:
The Division of Environmental Resources have provided free rain barrel and composting seminars to the residents of Charles County. These seminars also provide residents a chance to build and purchase a rain barrel or composting bin.
Mallows Bay is one of Charles County’s many registered Potomac River Watershed Cleanup sites. The recent publicity surrounding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) intent to designate Mallows Bay a National Marine Sanctuary has helped increase public awareness of the health and beauty of the Potomac River. Located on the Potomac River, just 30 miles from our nation’s capital, Mallows Bay is renowned for its diverse collection of historic shipwrecks, recreational opportunities and scenic beauty. Through a community-based effort, this Maryland treasure in Charles County may become the first national marine sanctuary in the state of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and the first new designation in more than two decades.